Thermal Underwear (Long Johns)

Lisa C. Daily Life, Newcomer Information

Today, let’s talk about long johns (also formally known as thermal underwear or long underwear).

If you grew up or once lived in a four-season country or region, chances are that you already know something about this topic. But if you moved to Canada from somewhere warm all year round, the idea of needing or wearing long underwear may be unfamiliar to you.

If this is your first winter in Calgary and you are from a warmer country, we highly recommend long johns.

What is thermal underwear or long johns?
  • Long johns or thermal underwear is a type of underwear with long sleeves and legs.
  • The fabric used to make long johns is cotton, polyester or a blend of the two.
  • People wear long johns under their clothes during cold weather.
  • Long johns are available in most supermarkets, e.g. Walmart, Costo, Superstore. You can also buy them online.
Where did the term “long johns” originate?

There are many different stories. One version is that a British clothing manufacturer named this type of underwear after a famous heavyweight boxer John L. Sullivan in the late 19th century.

When should I wear thermal underwear?

There’s no fixed rule about when we should wear thermal underwear. Here are some common factors you need to consider:

  • What’s the temperature outside?
  • How long do you plan to spend outdoors?
  • What will you be doing outdoors?
  • How sensitive you are to cold temperature?

For instance, if you are just leaving a well-heated shopping centre and walking to your parked car, you may not need to wear long underwear even if it’s minus 10 Celsius. Yes, it is cold, but you only spend 2-3 minutes outside and you will be walking (instead of standing still), so you will be fine.

The last factor, one’s cold tolerance, varies from person to person. For example, some people will freeze to death (figuratively) when waiting for a bus with no long johns when it’s minus 10 Celsius degrees, while some others (e.g. born-and-raised Calgarians) find it totally okay to do the same.

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. In Calgary, winter can get really cold. Dressing for the weather is important to protect yourself from hypothermia and frostbite.

As you spend more and more years in Calgary, your cold tolerance tends to build up. Eventually, you may not find yourselves relying on thermal underwear that much.

Word of the Day:

Thermal: made of a fabric that keeps the body warm

Watch this short video How to Prepare for Winter in Alberta, read the useful resources and learn more about winter temperature and winter clothing: